Two years ago my life was falling apart.
Bankruptcy, divorce, losing my mom to a 4 ½ year battle with ovarian cancer.
I was, almost literally, unmoored. I remember thinking, this is what it feels like to be a ship lost at sea without a way back.
“I want to go home” constantly looped in my head, but I didn’t know what it meant or how to get there. I drank too much, worked too many hours, and tried to stay afloat. My heart was broken. Some days it still is.
This is often what I think about when I see people doing destructive things to themselves or others. Sometimes it’s a small heartbreak and sometimes it’s big.
We don’t do ourselves any favors when we try to deny that heartbreak. I resist the idea that we can gloss over our problems or concerns, or that anyone is doing life better than anyone else. There isn’t a formula, algorithm or app in the world that can tell you how to be human.
I think the starting point is looking deeply at your life. Truly seeing and acknowledging who you are, in all of the good and bad, and then building better structure in your life, a framework for being a better version of yourself.
People have different ways of describing this. Some say “life-long learner” or “the only moment that matters is this one.” If you’re embedded in the startup world you’ll hear things like “stay lean,” “constantly iterate” and “prioritize.” If you are a musician or artist it’s something like “share truth that you see in the world, over and over.”
My version: be honest and be better, every single day.
The truth is, that’s not easy.
You aren’t going to like what you find. You’ll stumble, a lot. Hurt and pain and sadness are part of the experience. The most intense grief, whether it is obvious to other people or not, is the death of the Way Things Were Supposed To Be.
But if you work hard at it and keep your heart open, you’ll have an opportunity to build a life of consequence. You’ll be able to access ideas and thoughts and connections that matter. This is what it means to take the high road, to struggle anonymously in connecting to and helping others. If you do all that, then you may just find yourself living the life you never knew to dream of but unconsciously felt was there. The best thing I did this year was actually quite small. I became better each day.
Life falls apart. Build again. Repeat.